Typical Swazi hut (Pic. Times of Swaziland)

NSANGWINI – A 78-year-old granny and her four-year-old grandchild have been killed after the thatched hut they were sleeping in caught fire in Centre-western SWAZILAND.

The TIMES OF SWAZILAND says the TWO were burnt beyond recognition during the fatal incident at NSANGWINI, a remote area near the MAHLANGATJA Inkhundla of MANZINI District.

It quotes 57-year-old MFUNWA NHLABATSI as saying his mother, Gogo LOMBALISO MASEKO, was sickly and mentally unstable due to old age, and always slept with the lamp on.

He says the late old woman would sometimes crawl to the door and leave the hut, which forced the family to switch off the lamp and lock the door; but this time they left it burning.

Mr NHLABATSI says they had stopped using candles because they feared a similar incident would occur, not knowing the lamp they later bought would in fact lead to her death.

The family suspects the late granny had tried to crawl and knocked off the lamp, which fell onto the blankets and eventually set the whole hut ablaze.

Mr NHLABATSI says before he discovered the hut had caught fire, he heard a sound and suspected it was lightning – as the weather had changed during the night.

He says he saw a huge flame coming from the hut when he peeped through the window, and he immediately went out and raised the alarm for other residents to help put out the fire.

However, despite the help from neighbours, Mr NHLABATSI says they failed to rescue his late mother and the little boy, BANELE PURENA MDLULI because the roof had already collapsed.

Police from the MAHLANGATJA Post, led by Inspector MUZI PHUNGWAYO, arrived at the scene and found the TWO bodies already burnt beyond recognition, and they took away the remains.

The TIMES says the Fire and Emergency Services personnel also arrived at the scene, but the residents had already managed to put out the burning.

It quotes Mr NHLABATSI as saying on the night of the incident, his mother literally refused to let him put out the lamp saying she feared getting attacked by strange dreams.

He says the family is still traumatised by the fatal event because although their mother was old and sickly, she did not deserve to die the way she did; and considering that the fire also claimed the life of an innocent child.

ONE neighbour only identified as BABE MKHWANAZI says the incident is the most painful encounter he has ever come across in his life.

He says he heard the screams and immediately heard the shouting for help; but they failed to assist because as they came running with containers of water, the whole hut collapsed and buried the TWO.

SWAZILAND Police Chief Information and Communications Officer Superintendent KHULANI MAMBA has confirmed the fire incident, saying they are conducting further investigations./Sabanews/cam

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